Race Matters Quotes

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Race Matters Race Matters by Cornel West
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Race Matters Quotes (showing 1-19 of 19)
“My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victims perspective.



Cornel West, Race Matters
“Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority. (p. 102)”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"-- they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity. (p. 107-108)”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“In these downbeat times, we need as much hope and courage as we do vision and analysis; we must accent the best of each other even as we point out the vicious effects of our racial divide and pernicious consequences of our maldistribution of wealth and power. We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other's throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. We are at a crucial crossroad in the history of this nation--and we either hang together by combating these forces that divide and degrade us or we hang separately. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so. (p. 109)”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“The need of black conservatives to gain the respect of their white peers deeply shapes certain elements of their conservatism. In this regard, they simply want what most people want, to be judged by the quality of their skills, not by the color of their skin. But the black conservatives overlook the fact that affirmative action policies were political responses to the pervasive refusal of most white Americans to judge black Americans on that basis.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“And every historic effort to forge a democratic project has been undermined by two fundamental realities: poverty and paranoia. The persistence of poverty generates levels of despair that deepen social conflict the escalation of paranoia produces levels of distrust that reinforce cultural division. Rae is the most explosive issue in American life precisely because it forces us to confront the tragic facts of poverty and paranoia despair, and distrust. In short, a candid examination of race matters takes us to the core of the crisis of American democracy (p. 107).”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“QUALITY leadership is neither the product of one great individual nor the result of odd historical accidents. Rather, it comes from deeply bred traditions and communities that shape and mold talented and gifted persons. Without a vibrant tradition of resistance passed on to new generations, there can be no nurturing of a collective and critical consciousness—only professional conscientiousness survives.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“How does one undermine the framework of racial reasoning? By dismantling each pillar slowly and systematically. The fundamental aim of this undermining and dismantling is to replace racial reasoning with moral reasoning, to understand the black freedom struggle not as an affair of skin pigmentation and racial phenotype but rather as a matter of ethical principles and wise politics, and to combat the black nationalist attempt to subordinate the issues and interests of black women by linking mature black self-love and self-respect to egalitarian relations within and outside black communities. The failure of nerve of black leadership is its refusal to undermine and dismantle the framework of racial reasoning.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“To be humble is to be so sure of one’s self and one’s mission that one can forego calling excessive attention to one’s self and status.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“We need serious strategic and tactical thinking about how to create new models of leadership and forge the kind of persons to actualize these models.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“the major enemy of black survival in America has been and is neither oppression nor exploitation but rather the nihilistic threat—that is, loss of hope and absence of meaning. For as long as hope remains and meaning is preserved, the possibility of overcoming oppression stays alive. The self-fulfilling prophecy of the nihilistic threat is that without hope there can be no future, that without meaning there can be no struggle.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“King never confined himself to being solely the leader of black America—even though the white press attempted to do so.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“Where there is no vital community to hold up precious ethical and religious ideals, there can be no coming to a moral commitment—only personal accomplishment is applauded.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“Racial reasoning conceals these presuppositions behind a deceptive cloak of racial consensus—yet racial reasoning is seductive because it invokes an undeniable history of racial abuse and racial struggle.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“The paradox of race in America is that our common destiny is more pronounced and imperiled precisely when our divisions are deeper.”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“nihilistic”
Cornel West, Race Matters
“racial reasoning discourages moral reasoning.”
Cornel West, Race Matters

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